WEIRDLAND: Holding in the pain: "Joi Lansing: A Body to Die For" (2015) by Alexis Hunter

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Holding in the pain: "Joi Lansing: A Body to Die For" (2015) by Alexis Hunter

"Joi Lansing: A Body to Die For" colorfully chronicles personal and intimate details of the last four years of the talented ‘50’s “blonde bombshell” star’s fascinating life. After three decades of successful TV and movie appearances and Vegas singing stardom, Ms. Lansing died far too young at just 43. Though her funeral was attended by luminaries of the day (Frank Sinatra sent a huge floral display), her light went out relatively unceremoniously.

Always just on the verge of “making it big,” Joi packed them in with standing room only in Vegas, but when the curtain came down and the audience was gone, who was she? Sadly, the one relationship where she was loved for the sweet, gentle woman she really was, the friendship that might have given her the strength to finally cross the finish line for that one moment of glory for which she had run since she began in show business as a little girl of 14, was ended at her death from breast Cancer in the arms of her dear friend, “Rachel.”

Author Alexis Hunter (“friend/baby sister”) was the only person who really knew Joi and knew how she struggled with a suicide-obsessed self-image and deadly drug problem after being a child star at MGM where “uppers” were a common way to keep the kids working 20 hour days. Source:

Joi’s face was perfect, with no lines or imperfections. Her hair was a gorgeous and full platinum blonde, not the overbleached blonde that looked tacky and fake, but a warm, soft color. Her eyes were a beautiful green, and she was tall and thin. Not too thin, just no excess fat. She wore a peach minidress that was to be her costume throughout the film. It was quite low-cut and exposed her trademark cleavage. She was magnificent!

It wasn’t that busy for a twenty-four-hour coffee shop in the middle of Hollywood. Joi was dressed quite modestly and was not recognizable as the sex goddess she was portrayed to be. We sat in a booth next to a wall, rather than in the middle of the room where our conversation could be overheard by strangers. We talked until the sun shone through the window. There was no shooting going on that day at the studio. Exterior shots were being finished in Griffith Park, and neither of us had to be there. I can’t remember all that we talked about, it was like a dream. I only know that, during those hours of conversation, we connected as if we were soul mates long ago parted. As we spoke, our eyes met and didn’t wander. Each word that was said made us closer. She would reach across the table and touch my hand, and, with each touch, my heart would skip a beat. When it was time to leave, she asked me to go next door to a little shop with her. Since I didn’t have a phone of my own at the Studio Club, she said she’d call, and we’d get together.

She said she’d love to have dinner or go to a movie and asked if I would like that. We spent the evening talking as if we’d known each other for a hundred years. The more we spoke, the closer we sat to one another. She would reach out and touch my arm or gently brush her hand against my face. Her life had been filled with many men and brief affairs, and she expressed how sad and alone she had felt for too many years. Joi had been involved with Sid Caesar for a while, and, before him, it was Frank Sinatra. She had really liked Frank, but said he was quite troubled. The time they spent together was interrupted by his sadness at the loss of one of his friends. He would cry, and his depression destroyed any intimacy they had. That was the end of their affair.

She told me about the creeps and the scum in Hollywood — the producers and directors who demanded favors for work in a film. Talking about her experiences made her start to cry. She had been holding in the pain for too many years. I held her close, and she sobbed for hours. Time passed, and she was finally comforted. She felt safe, and, at this moment, she knew she was loved. "JOI LANSING: A BODY TO DIE FOR - A LOVE STORY" (2015) by Alexis Hunter

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